Monday, 21 December 2015

Winter Break

Speedqueens is currently undergoing its yearly update and clean-up, so there will be no new posts for a while.

Merry Christmas, see you all next year!

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Ulrike Krafft

Ulrike on the ETCC podium in 2013

Ulrike Krafft is a German driver who has been competing in the ETCC since 2011.

She began at the age of 20, in slaloms in 2004, winning her first title in 2005, driving an Opel Corsa. This was her first experience of any kind of motorsport, and she showed flair and competitiveness very early on.

Her first circuit races were in 2006, in the Dacia Logan Cup in Germany. Her best finishes were three fifth places. She did these alongside slaloms, in which she was still highly competitive, finishing second in her club’s championships for young drivers and allcomers.

She carried on in the Logan Cup in 2007, and performed well enough to win her club’s racing championship. Her season started very well, with a win at Oschersleben, but a series of technical problems later on put her and her team-mates out of the running.

2008 was a similar story. Ulrike and her team-mate, Henrik Stoldt, were very competitive, and even led the championship, until the final round. A lost wheel and other mechanical problems lost them the title. They were awarded the “Fairness Cup” as a consolation, for their sportsmanship.

The following year was a quiet one for Ulrike. Her ADAC Hansa team only entered one round of the Logan Cup, in which Ulrike was fourth. She spent much of the rest of the year concentrating on her university studies. She qualified in engineering, after studying in Hamburg and France, and earning herself a job with Bosch.

Following her graduation, she returned to motorsport, and moved up to the ADAC Procar series.  She was with the ATM Ladies team, driving a Ford Fiesta in Division II. She was fifth in the division, with a best finish of second, at Hockenheim, one of three podium places. The team consisted of three female drivers: Ulrike, Saskia Müller and Stephanie Neitzel, who also managed the team.  

In 2010, she also tried rallying, in a Dacia Logan, both as a driver and co-driver. Driving, she entered the Niedersachsen Rally, but did not finish. Her navigator was Katharina Wüstenhagen. As a co-driver, she was also unsuccessful, scoring a DNF in the Ostsee Rally with Pierre Humbert.

On the circuits, she held position in 2011, finishing fifth despite a slightly shortened season, with two second places at Oschersleben and Sachsenring, and a third at the Sachsenring. Sadly, a technical problem with the Fiesta, which began with a DNF at Zolder, put her out of four races. She also made her debut appearance in the ETCC, which was a two-round meeting at Salzburg. She was second in class for her two races, driving the Fiesta.

In 2012, she moved into the ETCC full-time, in the S1600 class, driving a different Fiesta, run by the Ravenol team. The championship had now expanded to four rounds. She was third in the S1600 championship, with a best finish of second, at Monza, plus third places at Imola, Salzburg and the Slovakiaring.

She contested the ETCC again in 2013, which was run over ten races, in five rounds. She was quite successful, winning her class once at Pergusa, and finishing third on six occasions. Her overall result was third in the Super 1600 class, in the Fiesta. However, she lost her Ladies' crown to Andrina Gugger, who was racing in the more powerful Super 2000 class.

In 2014, she came back to the ETCC, still in the Fiesta. She was a leading player in the S1600 class again, with five wins, from five pole positions. She was second in the S1600 standings, and would have won, had she not suffered two non-finishes at Zolder, where she started from pole. An official Ladies’ Trophy was awarded this year, and Ulrike won it easily, from Ksenya Niks and Andrina Gugger.

2015 was not quite as successful a season as 2014, but Ulrike was still one of the drivers to beat in S1600, in her Fiesta. She won one race, at the Slovakiaring, having started from pole. She earned a second pole position at Pergusa, at the end of the season, but could only convert it to a win in the second race. She was third overall.

The Super 1600 class was more competitive in 2016, and Ulrike missed several rounds of the championship. Despite a win at the Slovakiaring and a second and third place, she was seventh overall in her Fiesta. She also did some historic racing while she was away from the ETCC.

She did not race in 2017 and in 2018, she announced that she was pregnant with twins.

Ulrike’s long-term aim is to race in the WTCC.

(Image copyright Brigitta Niemann)

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Jamie Chadwick

Jamie (right), Ross Gunn and the Beechdean Aston Martin

Jamie Chadwick graduated to senior motorsport in 2015. She is a product of the Ginetta sportscar racing development ladder, one of a few female racers to utilise this route into the sport.

Jamie began karting at the age of twelve. Taking advantage of the opportunities in the UK for juniors to race on full circuits, she switched to cars after only two years.

She was the winner of the Ginetta Junior Scholarship in 2012, at fourteen, beating around sixty other young drivers to the prize of a fully-funded season in the Ginetta Junior Championship in 2013.

She took up her prize-drive in Ginetta Juniors in 2013. Between her scholarship win and the start of the season proper, she took part in the three-round Winter Series at Rockingham, finishing seventh. She was the highest-scoring first-timer.

During her 2013 season, her best result was fifth, at Knockhill.  She was usually inside the top ten, averaging seventh place, but she also had some disappointments; she racked up three DNFs that year. She was tenth overall. Her brother, Ollie, also raced in the series against her.

She had a second full season of Ginetta Juniors in 2014. Her year started well, with a podium: a third place at Brands Hatch. She racked up four more podium finishes, all thirds, and was eighth in the championship. 

Following her seventeenth birthday in 2015, it was time to move on. Jamie jumped straight into the British GT Championship, in the GT4 class. Her car was no less than an Aston Martin Vantage, run by the Beechdean-AMR team. With her partner, Ross Gunn, she got off to another good start, with two second places at Oulton Park, followed by two wins, at Rockingham and Silverstone, a second place at Spa and a third at Brands Hatch. The only real disappointment of the season was a disqualification at Oulton, following their second place on the track. The exclusion was for causing an accident, although it was not deliberate. At the end of the season, this did not count for much; Jamie and Ross were British GT4 champions. Jamie is the youngest ever winner of the title.

2015 had one more adventure for Jamie. The Beechdean team entered the Vantage in the Britcar 24 Hours at Silverstone, driven by Jamie, plus Jonny Adam, Harry Whale and Andrew Howard. They won the race from pole. This was the first win for a female driver in this event.

In recognition of her achievements, the BRDC nominated Jamie as one of their Rising Stars in 2015, along with the support that the award entails. The BWRDC has put her forward for their Gold Star award, for outstanding female drivers. She is also part of the Evolution Academy for young drivers, run by Aston Martin and Prodrive.

She remained a Team AMR driver for 2016, and raced the Aston Martin again in the British GT Championship. Her best finish was fourth, at Brands Hatch. As she missed a couple of races mid-season, she was thirteenth in the championship. Among her team-mates was Great British Bake Off's Paul Hollywood.

Her career changed direction in 2017 when she entered the BRDC Formula 3 Championship. This was her first time in a single-seater. Her first meeting in the Double R-run car was at Oulton, and did not quite go to plan. She was eleventh in her first race, then got disqualified from the second and did not finish the third. The second round at Rockingham went better; she was eighth in the first race, which translated to pole position in the reverse-grid second race. She was third, her best finish of the year. At the end of the season, she was ninth, after being a regular top-ten finisher, but not quite on the winning pace yet.

After the season ended, she took part in her first Formula Ford races at the Walter Hayes Trophy. She was third in her heat at the Silverstone event, following a battle with Michael Mallock, but car trouble intervened and she had to fight for a twelfth place in the final.

Her second season in BRDC F3 was somewhat of a mixed bag of results, but in August she became the first woman to win a British F3 race, following her victory at Brands Hatch.

Earlier in the year, she returned to her Aston Martin roots with a run in the Nurburgring 24 Hours. She was fifth in the SP8 class, driving a Vantage with Jonny Adam, Alex Lynn and Peter Cate. They were classified 63rd overall after a difficult race.

The winter season was an opportunity to rack up more single-seater wins; she dominated the Bahrain round of the MRF Challenge in the Formula 2000 category, winning twice.

At the start of 2019, she was awarded the Wakefield Trophy for the most meritorious performance by a woman in motorsport. At around the same time, she was announced as one of the first 20 drivers for the all-female W Series. Jamie won the first W Series title in the summer, with two race wins.

Mixed-sex Formula 3 was on the cards too. She did a couple of rounds of the Asian F3 series for Seven GP at Sepang, picking up a best finish of fifth. She signed up for the 2019-20 winter series with Absolute Racing and earned a seventh place at Sepang.

Away from single-seaters, she remained part of the Aston Martin Academy. Her activities with the team centred on the VLN: one championship race and the Nurburgring 24 Hours, where she won her class with Alex Brundle and Peter Cate.

She also did some historic racing, finishing fourth in class in a Jaguar E-Type at the Spa Six Hours. At the end of the year, she raced a Formula Ford in the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone. She qualified for the grand final but was taken out by another driver.

(Image from

Monday, 14 December 2015

"Charlotte" (Cécile de Montgolfier)

"Charlotte" in 1975

“Charlotte” was a French rally driver of the early 1970s. She never used her given name in connection with motorsport. She was from the Ardèche region, and worked as an ambulance driver.

Her career began in hillclimbs, in a VW, and later, an Alpine-Renault 1100 and a Porsche 911. Her rally career started in the navigator’s seat in 1970. The Paris-St.Raphaël Rally is described as her first event, although the name of the driver, and the make of the car, is lost. They did not finish, following a roll.

In 1972, she started driving herself, usually in an Alpine-Renault A110 Berlinette. Although she always drove as an amateur, she received sponsorship from Esso. This, and her choice of car, has led to some confusion between her and the drivers of Team Aseptogyl. Charlotte was never an Aseptogyl team member.

Her biggest achievement in 1972 was probably her win in the National class of the Paris-St. Raphaël Rally. She also won two other class awards, driving an Alpine-Renault 1600 with Annie Hanriot.

By 1973, she was tackling some of the big French events, including the Tour de Corse, in a Gordini-engined Renault 12. She did not finish. That year, she was also the runner-up in the Paris-St. Raphaël Rally, in an Alpine-Renault. With Marie-José Hommel, she competed in the Tour de France, but her attempt ended at the Montjuic Park circuit, due to problems with the Alpine during a speed test. In the same car, she was twelfth in the Ronde Cévenole.

In 1974, she was fourth in the Paris-St. Raphaël, and competed in the Tour de France, in the Alpine-Renault, although she did not finish. Her best result was a 15th place in the Rallye du Var. Her other rallies, including the Tour de Corse, mostly ended in DNFs, although she was seventh in class in the Mont Blanc Rally. She did better in hillclimbs, winning several Coupes des Dames and placing well in her class. Another try at the Tour de France led to more frustration, after a spin at Magny-Cours, again during a speed trial, put her out of the running.

In 1975, she tried circuit racing, in the Coupe Renault Elf Gordini. This decision was partly motivated by her amateur status; rallying, at the level of which she was capable, required time for recce and preparations, which circuit racing did not. Charlotte was one of two female drivers in the Coupe, driving a modified Renault 5, the other being Joëlle Pasquier. She was thirteenth on the Le Mans Bugatti circuit, and eighth at Albi. Later in the season, she planned to team up with Corinne Tarnaud for another Tour Auto, in a Porsche 911 this time.

Sadly, this was not to be. Charlotte was killed in a road traffic accident, whilst attending another car crash with her ambulance, in September 1975. She was 29 years old.

(Image from

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Christina Orr-West

Christina in 2015

Christina Orr, of New Zealand, is mostly known as a single-seater specialist. A precocious talent, she raced karts from an early age, and Formula First at twelve. This made her the youngest person to race a single-seater in competition. Not only that, but she was on the podium too. She was fourteenth in the championship.

The next year, in 2002, she was second in the New Zealand Formula First championship. During that year’s winter season, she moved up to Formula Ford, and won a “Rookie of the Series” award.

Her first full season of Formula Ford began in late 2002, and she was ninth overall, after a part-season. The following year, she was sixth, racing against the likes of Brendon Hartley and Charlie Kimball. She finished on the podium once. 

Her 2003 season was marred by tragedy, as she was involved in an accident in which a fellow Formula Ford racer, Michael McHugh, was killed. A lengthy inquest followed, but Christina was later absolved from blame, despite the protestations of McHugh’s family.

Putting 2003 behind her, 2004 saw her first international events – two races in the Australian Drivers’ Championship. Later, it was back to the NZ Formula Ford championship. Christina kept improving gradually, and was fifth at the end of the season. She scored two podium places, and two fastest laps.

In 2006, she moved up to Formula Toyota, New Zealand’s top-level domestic single-seater series. She was seventh in the winter series, before the main 2006-07 season started. Although she was not able to get another podium place, she did well in the championship, and was fifth overall.

2007 was a quiet year. She travelled to Australia, for the Bathurst 12 Hours, as part of an all-girl driving squad with Samantha Reid, Lauren Gray and Leanne Tander. They drove a Holden Astra, but did not finish.

Her next Formula Toyota season was 2008. This was something of a mixed year, with her best finishes being two fifth places at Manfeild. For the most part, she finished in the top ten, and was eighth overall.

The same year, she also entered four Indy Lights races in the USA. Her long-term goal was now a race seat in one of the American oval series. Out of her four races, she finished three times, and  had a best result of 16th, at Chicagoland. She hoped this would lead to more Stateside opportunities, but sponsorship was not forthcoming.

Most of 2009 was rather quiet for Christina. She did make one major appearance in Australia, in the Bathurst 12 Hours. She was part of a second all-female team, with Molly Taylor and Heather Spurle. They drove a Subaru Impreza, and were 27th overall, second in class.

After almost a year's lay-off, she returned to motorsport for the 2009-10 southern hemisphere season, driving a Holden Commodore saloon in New Zealand. She entered the BNTV8 and NZV8 series, in a self-entered car. Her best finish in BTV8s was eleventh, at Teretonga, and she was 22nd overall. She was 14th in the NZV8 Hamilton 400 Trophy.

A second season in the BNTV8 series in 2010-2011 panned out in a similar fashion. She drove a Commodore, and had a best finish of twelfth, at Taupo, and she was 20th in the championship.

A break from motorsport followed, during which Christina became a mother.

She returned to New Zealand in 2014, to race Utes. She signed up for the SsangYong Actyon Ute Racing Championship, one of five female drivers to do so. Despite her long lay-off, she was quickly on the pace, and became one of the series’ leading drivers. She won two races, and finished on the podium in four more. Her final championship position was third.

Christina raced Utes again for the 2015-2016 season, but was not quite as quick, and did not make it to the series podium at the end of the year.

However, her third Ssangyong Utes season got off to a fast start, with one win at Taupo at the second meeting of the year. She won again in the last meeting at Pukehohe. In addition, she picked up nine podium positions, three poles and two fastest laps. She was third overall.

She was third again in the 2017-18 Utes championship and signed up again for the 2019-20 season. In addition to the Ute, Christina also started racing an Audi R8 in the NZ Endurance Series, sharing the car with Ben Byers. The pair have scored one third and one fourth place.

(Image from

Monday, 7 December 2015

Female Drivers in the Carrera Panamericana

Jacqueline Evans in her "Eva Peron" Porsche, 1953

The Carrera Panamericana was a road race, organised by Enrique Martin Moreno, of Mexico. Its inaugural running followed the opening of the Mexican section of the Pan-American Highway. The route initially ran from Ciudad Juárez, via Texas, to Chiapas, on the Guatemalan border, and consisted of nine stages. Later editions ran in the opposite direction. The first race, in 1950, was a single-class affair for sports and saloon cars, but from 1952, a class system was implemented.

The first Carrera attracted a mix of seasoned US, Mexican and South American racing professionals, European circuit racers, rally drivers and amateur thrill-seekers. At least seven women drivers entered, some of whom fell into the latter category. Marie Brookreson was an ageing adventuress who entered in her own Lincoln, which was mostly driven by Ross Barton, a pilot in his seventies whom she had met when he crash-landed on her estate.  Mrs Lammons’ Buick was sponsored by Hi-A Brassieres.

The race gradually became more and more professionalised, and female participation dropped sharply after the first event. Jacqueline Evans, a British-Mexican actress and racer, was the only female driver to compete in all five Carreras. In 1953, she drove a Porsche 356 running in memory of Eva Peron.

From its beginning, the Carrera was an extremely dangerous race, and its cancellation was largely down to this factor. Women did not escape entirely unscathed; in 1951, Teresita Panini’s car was involved in a serious accident. Her father, Carlos Panini, a Mexican pioneer aviator who was driving at the time, was killed. Teresita was not seriously injured.
The Carrera was revived as a classic road rally in 1988.

Below is a list of all the female drivers who raced in the Carrera Panamericana. As ever, in a mixed team, the woman’s name in always given first, for clarity. Names in italics are assumed to be female drivers, although this has not been verified.

Jacqueline Evans (Chrysler Windsor) – 45th
Lucille Acevedo/Andrea Gonzáles (Buick) – 47th
Marie Boone/Arthur Daniel Boone (Buick) – disqualified
Merryl Bedford/Mrs H.R. Lammons (Buick) – DNF
“Mrs. Warren”/E.P. Warren (Buick) – DNF
Marie Brookreson/Ross Barton (Lincoln Cosmopolitan) –  DNF
Margie Allen/Buster Anthony Hemesbedy (Mercury) – DNF

Teresita Panini/Carlos Panini (Alfa Romeo 6C) – DNF
Jacqueline Evans (Chrysler Saratoga) – DNF

Jacqueline Evans (Chrysler Saratoga) – 37th

Jacqueline Evans (Porsche 356) – DNF

Asención Morales/Olegario Perez Pligo (Ford) – DNF
Jacqueline Evans de Lopez (Porsche 356) – DNF

(Image from

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Saloon and Ute Racing in New Zealand

Alyssa Clapperton with Craig Baird's Holden Commodore

New Zealand female drivers have competed in both touring cars and Ute racing in recent years, both at home, and in Australia. For the earliest female racers from New Zealand, click here. Chelsea Herbert now has her own post

Jessica Antonievic – raced in the SsangYong Actyon Ute Racing Series in the 2014-2015 season. This was her first season of motorsport. She was 39th in the championship, after finishing all of her races. She works as an administration manager for SsangYong, and has had racing ambitions for some time. She was recruited for the series partly to increase its diversity. She did a second season of Utes in 2015-16, and usually finished, if near the back. Her third year in a Ute was a part-season, mostly the later races. 

Stef Baigent – raced in the SsangYong Actyon Ute Racing Series in 2014-2015. She was 41st in the championship, after scoring points in two of her races. In 2015, she returned to the series. She is the daughter of Kent Baigent, an NZ touring car racer, and the two of them have occasionally competed together in endurance events, driving a BMW M135. The father-daughter team was still in action in 2017. 

Sheridan Broadbent - races in the SsangYong Ute series in New Zealand. She is part of the Race 4-D Cup team which races in support of breast cancer charities. The team is all-female and was started by Bronwynne Leech. Sheridan’s first season in Utes was 2016-2017, and she was 34th overall, with a best finish of 24th at Hampton Downs. She finished 28th in the 2017-18 championship. She also races historics, including a Ford Cortina.

Debbie Chapman – twice a participant in major Bathurst races. In 1999, she was tenth in the Bathurst 500, driving a BMW 320i. In 2002, she drove a BMW 318i in the Bathurst 24 Hours, but did not finish. She raced alongside her husband, Dennis. They were recognised for ten years of service to New Zealand motorsport in 2004. After that, she has remained active in endurance racing in New Zealand. In 2006, she and Dennis were still racing a 318i, and were still competitive. Two years later, Debbie was still competing in endurance racing, and was also nominated for the Lupp Award, which goes to a driver involved in historics.

Alyssa Clapperton – had her debut season of New Zealand V8 Touring Cars in 2015. She drove a Holden Commodore for Team Kiwi Racing, partnering Craig Baird, after being chosen from 2000 hopefuls for a TKR Academy race seat. As well as NZV8s, she did some guest races in the SsangYong Actyon Ute Racing Series. During the 2015-16 season, she raced in BNT NZ Touring Cars, in a Team Kiwi Commodore again. Despite missing some races, she was fifth overall, with a best finish of fourth, at Manfeild and Hampton Downs. She also made some guest appearances in Aussie Racing Cars, driving for Team New Zealand. 2017 was a shortened season for her. She raced in NZ Touring Cars in a Ford Falcon, and then the Cheapies Under $4000 series in a Toyota. She began racing in 2012, in local club races, in a Toyota Starlet. In 2013, she competed with her father, Ian, driving a Holden Commodore in endurance races.

Tessa Field - races in the Ssangyong Actyon Ute series in New Zealand. The 2017-18 championship was her first year of racing a Ute. She is a reliable finisher, if not yet quite on the pace. Her best finish has been 23rd, at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park. During the Southern Hemisphere summer, she raced a Honda Civic in the Mitre 10 Mega Summer Series and won one race, at Taupo. In 2018, she raced the Honda in the SF Cup Winter Series, securing at least one podium.

Amanda West - races in the Ssangyong Actyon Ute championship. 2017 appears to have been her first year of competition. She found Utes rather hard-going to start with, and had to contend with some technical problems, including gearbox issues. Her season ended with 27th in the championship. She also raced a Mazda RX8 in the IRC Summer Series the year before, and scored at least one third place.

(Image copyright Matthew Hansen)

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sarah Bovy

Sarah (left) on the BRCC podium in 2012

Sarah Bovy is a Belgian driver who competes in Europe, and is based in Belgium.

She started her senior motorsport career in 2004, in the Formula Renault Academy. She was just fifteen years old, and reached the final on her first attempt. The following year, she joined the Belgian Formula Renault 1.6 championship, and scored two podiums. She was driving for Thierry Boutsen’s team. Sadly, her funding ran out after only three races.

Although she had showed promise in single-seaters, it was saloon cars that she initially gravitated towards. Her first Spa 12 Hours was in 2006, and she was 18th in a Renault Clio. She also took part in the 10h Zolder race and the BTCS 25 Hours in the Clio, as part of a multi-driver team. For the 12 Hour event, she was a guest driver in the Speed Action team. This was after another guest spot in the Belgian Legends championship, which gave Sarah a win. At the end of the season, she was named as the Belgian female driver of the year.   

In 2007, she took a step up, and moved into international sportscar competition. She drove a Gillet Vertigo Streiff for Belgian Racing. Sharing with the experienced Renaud Kuppens, she was 34th in the Spa 12 Hours. The pair were joined by Bas Leinders for the Spa 24 Hours, but did not finish. Sarah was 18 years old, and one of the youngest people to have driven a sportscar on the Spa circuit. She had also only just passed her road driving test.

For the next two seasons, she undertook testing and development work in a variety of different cars, supported by Gravity Sport Management. She did not do any competitive racing.

At the start of 2010, Sarah was back in a sportscar, driving a Porsche 996 in the first round of the Belcar championship, at Zolder. She and her team-mate, “Brody”, were 26th. She tried to qualify the Porsche for the Spa 24 Hours, but could not manage. Later, she returned to the Belgian Touring Car Championship (BTCS) and drove a Mitsubishi Lancer for the first time. She did two races with Jean-Pierre de Wauwer, and was 18th in the championship after one podium finish. Her BTCS programme included the Spa 12 Hours, and she was seventh. Round-the-clock enduros were something of a theme for 2010, as she also raced in the VW Fun Cup 25 Hours, held at Spa.

In 2011, she was meant to race a Ginetta for JHR Developments in the British GT Championship, but the deal fell through. Instead, she carried on with development work for Formula 3. For the past couple of seasons, she had spent time helping to develop a number of cars. For a change, she competed in the Rally Televie in a Porsche Cayman, and towards the end of the year, she was one of the finalists for the FIA Women in Motorsport Scirocco-R Shootout. She did not win the Scirocco Cup prize drive.

In 2012, it was back to sportscars, and she drove a McLaren MP4-12C in the Spa 24 Hours with Boutson Ginion Racing. The team consisted of Sarah, Marlène Broggi, Jérôme Thiry and Massimo Vignali. They did not finish. For the rest of the year, she was involved in the BRCC series, in a GC10 V8 BMW. She was second in her class of the Long Races championship, as part of a rotating squad of drivers for the GC team.  

In 2013, she raced the GC10 in the Dutch GT championship, finishing eighth in one race at Spa and fifth in another. She was twelfth overall in the BRCC Long Race category, with two class wins, and won the Silhouette ProEvo class. She also became the first woman to race an Aston Martin Vantage GT3, in the Spa 24 Hours, but she did not finish.

In 2014, the Long Race series was dropped, and she did not take part in the BRCC.  

2015 was mostly spent in the Renault Sport Trophy. She drove a Renault RS in some races at Spa. She was third in a Prestige (sprint) race, and fourth in an Endurance race. Her team-mate was Michela Cerruti. Away from Renault, she drove a works-supported Peugeot 208 in the Hankook 24h Series, for Team Altran. She raced at Mugello and Brno. The Brno 12 Hours gave her a class win, and 14th overall, driving in a team of three. A different team, including Sarah, did not quite get to the end of the Mugello race.

She did some more endurance racing in a Peugeot 208 in 2016. At the start of the season, she contested the Dubai 24 Hours, but did not finish due to mechanical issues. She had more luck in the Silverstone 24 Hours, where she was fourth overall, with a class win. Her team was Altran Peugeot, and she was part of a five-driver squad. 

Most of her season was spent racing a Lamborghini Huracan in the European Lamborghini Super Trofeo. She was fourteenth in the Pro-Am class, and her best race result was thirteenth, at Spa.  

She raced the Huracan again in 2017, entering the Spa 24 Hours, which ran as a round of the Blancpain GT Series. She was sixth in the Amateur class. 

The Huracan came out again for the 2018 Spa 2 Hours. Sarah and her three team-mates were second in the Group N class, 47th overall. 

In 2019, she is part of a revolving cast of female drivers in an R24-run Ligier LMP3 in the Asian Le Mans Series. She and Stephane Kox were seventh at Shanghai in January.

The 2019 summer season was spent as part of the all-female W Series. Sarah was chosen as a driver but only as a reserve, so she only made two starts. She was meant to start her home Zolder race as it was her birthday, but her car caught fire on the startline. She is unlikely to be involved with W Series in 2020.

She is the daughter of Quirin Bovy, who raced touring cars in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s.

(Image copyright 

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Burcu Çetinkaya

Burcu Çetinkaya is a Turkish driver who has competed in Europe, and in the WRC.

She began her rally career in 2005, after several years of representing Turkey in snowboarding competitions. Her first car was a Fiat Palio, and her first rally, the Hittite Rally, in which she was 45th, ninth in class. Not long afterwards, she entered the Fiat Rally, an ERC round, and was 23rd overall. This was her best result of the year.

After her first European championship rally in 2005, she entered her first World Championship event in 2006. She drove in the Rally of Turkey, and was 50th overall, driving a Ford Fiesta. Another run in the Fiat Rally gave her a 21st place, and she performed strongly in the Istanbul Castrol Rallysprint events, earning a ninth an eighth place. This year, she won her first Turkish ladies’ championship.

The Fiesta would prove to be her regular car for several seasons. In 2007, she kept expanding her horizons, and entered her first overseas rallies. She took part in four rounds of the Belgian championship, taking in classic events like the Ypres-Westhoek and Condroz-Huy rallies. She ran quite well in the Haspengouw Rally, and was 28th overall. Mid-season, she travelled to the Czech Republic for the Barum Rally, and was 43rd, with a class second. Her season finale was a second WRC round, the Wales Rally GB, in which she was 63rd. In between, she still played an active part in her domestic championship, and won a second Turkish Ladies’ Cup. Her best events were the Istanbul and Yeşil Bursa rallies, in which she was fifteenth.

Her involvement with Ford deepened in 2008, when she entered the Fiesta Castrol Sporting Trophy, supported by Castrol Ford Team Turkey. Her WRC programme expanded to six rounds: Italy (Sardinia), Turkey, Finland, Germany, Spain and Great Britain. She finished all six. Predictably, the Rally of Turkey was her best event, and she won her class. She was 25th overall. Away from home, she continued to enter Belgian rallies, with mixed results, the best of these being a 31st place in the Rallye de Wallonie. At home, she achieved her first top-ten finish, a tenth place in the Yeşil Bursa Rally, with a class win. Another class win in the Istanbul Rally was very welcome, and helped her to twelfth in the Turkish championship, and a Class N3 title. The only real bad point of 2008 was a spectacular crash in the Ypres Rally, in Belgium.

At the end of 2008, Burcu experimented with other cars, and drove a Mitsubishi Lancer in the Istanbul rallysprints. The beginning of 2009 saw her continue to experiment, with a Fiat Abarth Grand Punto. She guested in the Italian championship, entering the Rally Adriatico with none other than Fabrizia Pons, the former co-driver of Michele Mouton. They were 39th overall. Later in the season, Burcu returned to Italy for the Azzano Rally, on gravel, but in a Peugeot 207 this time. She was 17th, with her usual navigator, Cicek Güney.

Despite the new cars, the Fiesta remained her main mount, and she had a second try at some of the Fiesta Sporting Trophy rounds. Poland was her best outing in the WRC, and she was 28th, fifth in class. She retired from the RACC Rally Spain, and finished in the forties in the UK and Finland. It was in the Turkish championship that she really found her feet, with four top-ten finishes: fifth in the Kocaeli Rally, eighth in the Hittite Rally, seventh in the Istanbul Rally and ninth in the Ege Rally. Two of these were also class wins.

For 2010, she switched allegiance from Ford to Peugeot, and drove for the Peugeot Turkey team in a Super 2000-spec 207. Her schedule was a mix of WRC and IRC events, beginning with the Rally of Turkey in April. She was a career-best twelfth. Retirements from the Sardinia and Ypres Rallies followed, then a 19th place in the Rally Vinho Madeira. Her second WRC event, Germany, ended in another retirement, before indifferent finishes in the Barum and Sanremo Rallies. Her best result of the year was in the Scottish Rally, where she was eighth, getting herself onto the IRC points leaderboard, in 37th place. Her last IRC rally was Cyprus, in which she was fifteenth.  

In 2011, she tried three different cars: an S2000 Fiat Punto and Skoda Fabia, and a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. At the start of the year, she used the Fiat in Turkish rallies. She retired from the Bosphorus and Kocaeli rallies, but was eighth in the Istanbul Rally. Her first event in the Skoda was a second visit to the Scottish Rally, but this too ended in retirement. After that, her schedule was centred around the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, as opposed to Europe, as in previous years. She did two more events in the Skoda, the Cyprus and Hittite rallies, finishing 17th in Cyprus and fifth in the Hittite Rally. Moving on to a new “playing field” and a bigger car, she was fifth in the Dubai Rally, and third in a round of the Qatar championship.

Driving the Group N Lancer, she competed exclusively in the Middle East in 2012. She rallied a lot in Qatar, and started the year with a fourth place in the Qatar International Rally. A string of podium finishes in the Qatar championship gave her second overall, and she managed another top ten in the Middle East championship, finishing eighth in Dubai.

Her season in 2013 was quite similar, although she only finished on the podium once in Qatar, and was seventh in the championship. In the MERC, she was eleventh in Kuwait and fourteenth in Jordan, but retired from the Dubai Rally.

She did not compete in 2014, instead returning to her studies, moving to a new area and embracing religion.

In 2015, she returned to the Turkish championship, which was now the home of a few other female drivers. Her best result was ninth, in the North Cyprus Rally, and she was also tenth in the Kocaeli and Çanakkale rallies. Her car was still the Group N Mitsubishi.

She took another year out in 2016, but returned to the Turkish championship in 2017. Initially, she drove the Lancer. She only recorded one finish in it, then it caught fire on the Troia Rally. It was replaced by a Ford Fiesta. This car was more reliable. She picked up one top-twenty finish in it, a 14th place in the Kocaeli Rally.

In 2018, she entered Rally Turkey with Inessa Tushkanova as her co-driver. They were 31st in the main event and sixth in the National rally, driving a Ford Fiesta.

Between 2008 and 2010, Burcu was the highest-ranked female rally driver in the world. As well as her motorsport activities, she also works as a presenter on Turkish television.  

(Image from

Monday, 23 November 2015

"Valli" (Valerie Stack)

Valli's helmet, and portraits of her

“Valli” was the nom de course of Valerie Stack, a 1970s saloon racer, and Biba model, who managed to claim some good race finishes and a string of lap records too. She raced between 1975 and 1977, driving an MG Midget, Lotus Europa and Triumph TR7 with Biba sponsorship.

Her name first became known in motorsport circles in 1975, for reasons not related to her on-track performance. She was photographed sunbathing topless at Mallory Park, and the pictures were published in the British motoring press. Valli was already working as a model, and at that time, was in a relationship with racer and track owner, Chris Meek.  He encouraged her to drive one of his racing cars, and her first track appearance was more of a modelling assignment than a race, just doing some demonstration laps in an MG Midget. Meek saw that she took to the car quite well, and offered her some actual racing, in the Midget. Despite having few ambitions in that direction, she decided to give it a go, and entered the BRSCC Production Sports Car Championship. Her early races were hard work, and some ended in spins, but she was soon picking up class awards, including two at Croft. Biba, the fashion label for which she had modelled, was the main sponsor of her MG Midget, which carried a striking black and gold livery.

Away from motorsport, Valli’s professional life took a different direction in 1976. She moved away from modelling and into music production, working alongside her future husband, Emile Ford, and producing one of his albums. Her relationship with Chris Meek must have been over by then, but he continued to support her in her racing activities. She was active in Production Sports Cars again in 1976, and was one of the leading drivers in her class. She set lap records for production sports cars worth £2000 and under at Brands Hatch, Aintree, Castle Combe, Rufforth and Ingliston.

The BWRDC gave her their award for the most successful woman driver in 1976, as well as its Best Newcomer title.

In 1977, she raced a Triumph TR7 in Production Sports, also owned by Meek and sponsored by Biba. She came second in at least one race, at her favoured circuit of Croft. At some point, she raced a Lotus Europa, again owned by Meek, part of a two-car team with him, but no results are forthcoming.

That year, her name was linked to a Land Speed Record project, Blue Star, led by Dave Gossling. Valli was said to be considering an attempt on Lee Breedlove’s women’s record, by no less than Motor Sport magazine. Drag racer Tony Densham and Formula One driver, David Purley, were linked to the project too, but it never came to fruition, as Dave Gossling was killed in an accident before the car was even built.

Valli retired from motorsport after 1977, following her marriage to Emile Ford and subsequent pregnancy. She is rather an obscure figure now, although she is remembered fondly by some motor racing fans who saw her in action.

(Image copyright “Sherbet Hamilton”)

Friday, 20 November 2015

Sanna Pinola

Sanna Pinola was a front-runner in Finnish and Nordic Formula 3 during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Born in 1975, she got into motorsport at an early age, and was karting by 1983, when she was eight. Her lengthy karting career took her up to 1992.

At seventeen, she moved up to cars, and gravitated towards single-seaters. She did at least some races in Formula 4 in 1993, and drove in the Finnish Formula 4 Championship for the Sami Pensala team in 1994.

Her activities are less clear for 1995 and 1996. She remained in Formula 4 with her 1994 team in 1995, and had a heavy crash at the Botniaring, which she came through unscathed. The following year, she may have stayed with the same team, and seems likely to have still been involved with Formula 4.

In 1997, she posted at least one win in Formula 4, in the first round at Hämeenlinna. Her final championship position is not forthcoming.

Her final season of Formula 4 was in 1998. She was ninth in the championship. After that, it was time to move on to the next level.

Sanna’s next challenge was Formula 3. Her season in the Nordic championship had a steady start, with an eighth and sixth place at Anderstorp, in Sweden. By the next meeting, also at Anderstorp, she had learned the car, and scored two third places. In August, at the Jyllandsring, she finished on the podium again, and was then second in the second race. Her home races, at Alastaro, were a slight let-down, as she only finished one of them, but she was still a strong fifth overall in the championship.

A move to the Vaisanen F3 team for the 2000 Scandinavian championship did not go completely smoothly, and she missed some races at the start of the season. Throughout the summer, she struggled to reach the top three, until the Hämeenlinna race, which she won. This took her up to fourth in the Scandinavian series, and fifth in the Swedish championship.

In the summer of 2000, she became part of a tiny group of women who have driven modern Formula One cars, albeit not in a standard race setting. She drove a Minardi two-seater in a demonstration run at Kemora.

She stayed with the same team in 2001, and registered in the Finnish F3 Championship. As expected, she was immediately on the pace, and was second in her second race, at Alastaro. The first meeting at Hämeenlinna was underwhelming, but she won again on her second visit, from pole. A pair of DNFs at Botniaring was a disappointment, but she was on the podium again at Alastaro, in second place. A final visit to Hämeenlinna was a damp squib; although Sanna qualified on pole, she could only finish tenth in the first race, and did not start the second. This was only a minor disappointment, however, as she won the Scandinavian championship, and was seventh in the Finnish.

In 2002, she concentrated on the Finnish championship. This year, she was stronger than ever, and won three times, and finished on the podium on two further occasions. She was in the lead for much of the season, and would have won the championship had it not been for a crash involving Jari Koivisto, which allowed Jussi Pinomäki to leapfrog her on the leaderboard. Koivisto was third, just behind her.

After this, Sanna had a race seat fall through on her, and sadly faded from the motorsport scene. She had been set to contest the German F3 series, then the premier European F3 championship, but fraud by one of her managers meant that she lost her funding, and could not take part.

She carried on with some TV work for a little while, having been part of an MTV Finland stunt/prank show since 1999, but then retired from public life completely. She is apparently now working in a field unrelated to motorsport.

Sanna clearly had pace, and the ability to qualify and defend a lead. The ongoing debate over female drivers in Formula One would have been much more interesting, had she been able to progress further.

(Image from

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Female Drivers at the Bathurst 1000

Christine Gibson

The Bathurst 1000 is Australia’s premier home-grown motorsport event. It began in 1960 as the Armstrong 500, and was actually held at Phillip Island for the first three years.

In 1963, it moved to its present home, as an endurance race for production touring cars, on sale in Australia. Until the mid-1960s, awards were strictly class-based, with no overall results published. Gradually, the rules were relaxed, with foreign-model cars permitted, and overseas drivers, raising its profile within international motorsport. Its length was increased to 1000 kilometres in 1973.

For a long time, the race stuck to its production-car origins. In 1985, it switched to Group A rules, and was part of the ITC global touring car championship in 1987, then in the early 1990s, it became open to cars running to Super Touring spec. This created a rift with the growing V8 Supercar championship, who, due to a TV broadcast agreement at odds with that of the original Bathurst 1000, created their own in 1997. The Australia 1000 ran alongside the original race for three years, before becoming part of the V8 Supercar championship in 2000.

Women drivers have raced in the event almost from the start, and were particularly numerous in the 1960s and 1970s. Christine Gibson (Cole) is the most prolific female starter, with nine attempts to her name. She also shares the best finish for a female driver with Marie-Claude Beaumont: sixth. The best finish for an all-female team is eleventh, achieved by the “Castrol Cougars”, Kerryn Brewer and Melinda Price, in 1998.

Following the inclusion of the 1000 into the V8 Supercar calendar, female participation has reduced drastically. In 2015, the first female entrants for six years were Simona de Silvestro and Renee Gracie.  

Phillip Island (race length: 500 miles)
Anne Bennett/Diane Leighton/Pam Murison (Simca Aronde) – 3rd, Class C

Mount Panorama (race length: 500 miles)
Lorraine Hill/Warren Blomfield (Morris Elite) – 16th, Class B

Lorraine Hill/Brian Reed (Hillman Imp) – 13th, Class A

Jane Richardson/Midge Whiteman (Morris 1100S) – 36th

Christine Cole/Midge Whiteman (Morris Mini) – 41st

Diane Dickson/Max Dickson (Ford Cortina) – 31st
Sandra Bennett/Arthur Olsen (Morris Mini) – 36th
Carole Corness/Ann Thompson (Morris Mini) – DNF
Christine Cole/Lynne Keefe (Fiat 125) – DNF

Sandra Bennett/Christine Cole (Gibson) – (Holden LC Torana) – 13th
Lynne Keefe/Arthur Olsen (Morris Mini Cooper S) – 36th
Carole Corness/Gloria Taylor (Ford Escort MkI) – 42nd

Jan Holland/Pat Peck (Holden LC Torana) – 29th

Christine Gibson/Jan Holland (Holden LC Torana) – DNF
Pat Peck (Holden LC Torana) – DNF

Race length: 1000 kilometres
Caroline O’Shanesy/Peter Williamson (Morris Mini Cooper S) – 26th
Christine Gibson/Sue Ransom (Alfa Romeo GTV 2000) – DNF
Pat Peck/Darrilyn Huitt (Holden LJ Torana) – DNF

Marie-Claude Beaumont/John Leffler (Alfa Romeo GTV 2000) – 6th
Sue Ransom/Bill Brown (Ford Escort RS2000) – 11th
Caroline O’Shanesy/David Booth (Morris Mini Cooper S) – 27th

Marie-Claude Beaumont/Christine Gibson (Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTAm) – DNF
Caroline O’Shanesy/Garry Leggatt (Fiat 128 3P) – DNF

Sue Ransom/Russell Skaife (Ford Capri) – DNF
Janet Guthrie/Johnny Rutherford (Holden LX Torana) – DNF

Sue Ransom/Bill Brown (Ford Capri) – DNF
Robyn Hamilton/Ralph Radburn (Holden LX Torana) – DNF

Sue Ransom/Neville Bridges (Holden VB Commodore) – 22nd
Alexandra Surplice/John Gates (Toyota Corolla) – 28th

Christine Gibson/Joe Moore (Ford XD Falcon) – 6th
Alexandra Surplice/Doug Clark (Toyota Corolla) – DNF

Christine Gibson/Bob Muir (Nissan Pulsar) – DNF

Alexandra Surplice/Bob Holden (Toyota Sprinter) – 26th
Christine Gibson/Glenn Seton (Nissan Pulsar) – DNF

1987 (ITC)
Annette Meeuvissen/Mercedes Stermitz/Roland Ratzenberger (BMW M3) – DNF

Heather Spurle/Bob Jones (Holden VL Commodore) – 26th

Melinda Price/Garry Jones/Andrew Reid (Toyota Corolla) – DNF

Jenni Thompson/Aaron McGill/Terry Skene (Ford Mondeo) – DNF

FAI Australia 1000 (race length: 1000km)
Melinda Price/Kerryn Brewer (Holden VS Commodore) – 12th

The Castrol Cougars: (l-r) Melinda Price, Kim Watkins (never drove), Kerryn Brewer

Heidi O’Neil/Paula Elstrek/Damien Digby (Ford Mondeo) – DNF
Jenni Thompson/Mike Fitzgerald (Peugeot 405) – DNF

FAI Australia 1000
Melinda Price/Kerryn Brewer (Holden VS Commodore) – 11th
Nicole Pretty/Nathan Pretty/Grant Johnson (Holden VS Commodore) - DNF

(race length: 500 miles)
Debbie Chapman/Dennis Chapman (BMW 320i) – 10th
Jenni Thompson/Allan Letcher (BMW 318i) – 12th
Leanne Ferrier (Tander)/Dean Canto (Ford Mondeo) – DNF

FAI Australia 1000 (race length: 1000 miles)
Melinda Price/Dean Lindstrom (Holden VS Commodore) – 17th

Melinda Price/Dean Lindstrom (Holden VS Commodore) – 20th

Leanne Ferrier/Paul Dumbrell (Holden VX Commodore) – DNF

Leanne Tander/David Wall (Ford BF Falcon) – 29th

Renee Gracie/Simona de Silvestro (Ford FG X Falcon) – 21st

Renee Gracie/Simona de Silvestro (Nissan Altima) - 14th

Simona de Silvestro/David Russell (Nissan Altima) - DNF

Simona de Silvestro/Alex Rullo (Nissan Altima) - 14th

Simona de Silvestro/Alex Rullo (Nissan Altima) - 14th

(C. Gibson image copyright News Corp Australia)

Friday, 6 November 2015

Female Drivers in One-Make Series: Hungary

Hungarian female drivers are making big strides into their domestic motorsport scene. The current favoured series is the RCM Cup, which allows very young drivers to race alongside more experienced competitors. The Lotus Ladies’ Cup also attracted a largely Hungarian field, especially in its earlier seasons. Anett György now has her own post

Annamaria Abari – Hungarian-born, but now a US passport holder. She did some races in the 2014 RCM Suzuki Swift Cup, finishing 19th overall, with a best finish of ninth, at the Pannoniaring. Previously, she competed in karting in the USA, and she returned to senior competition after her Hungarian races. In 2016, she returned to cars, but in rallycross. She contested at least some rounds of the Hungarian Junior championship in a Suzuki Swift. She was also a competitive swimmer.

Edina Bús - winner of the Lotus Ladies’ Cup in 2011 and 2012, after an appeal in the case of the 2012 championship. She has 17 wins from 24 races in that series. Before the Ladies’ Cup, she raced Suzuki Swifts in her native Hungary. In 2008, she was fourth in the Hungarian Suzuki Swift Cup, and in 2009, ninth. In 2010, she raced in a bio-fuelled version of the Swift Cup, and was fourth in that. As part of the Ladies’ Cup, she has undertaken various media duties for Lotus. Her activities in 2013 included racing a Ferrari in the Central Europe Zone championship, alongside Norbert Kiss. She also did one race in India as part of the Lotus Ladies set-up. In 2014, she raced in the SEAT Leon Eurocup. Her best result was eighth, at Salzburg. She was 21st overall. Another season in the SEAT gave her 25th overall, with a best finish of thirteenth, at the Red Bull Ring. In 2016, she raced the SEAT in some rounds of the Hungarian touring car championship, and earned a second and third place at the Hungaroring. 

Stefánia Havellant - Hungarian driver who had her first season of racing in 2014. She competed in the Suzuki Swift Cup, in the Hungarian national class. Her best result has been seventh, at the Slovakiaring. She does not appear to have completed all of her races this season. Stefánia may well be from a motorsport family, as there are others in Hungarian motorsport with the surname Havellant. 

Vivien Miss – raced in the RCM Swift Suzuki Cup in Hungary in 2014. She did a part-season in the second half of the year, driving for the Proex team. Her best finish was fourteenth, and she was 23rd in the championship. She was competing alongside her father, János Miss. She does not appear to have raced in 2015.  

Diána Simon – Hungarian driver who races in the Suzuki Swift Cup in Europe. She was a team-mate to Vivien Keszthelyi in 2015. Her best result so far has been a 17th place. Diána was still only fifteen years old, but under Hungarian motorsport authority rules, could race as a senior. 2015 was her first year of senior competition.

(Image from

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Barbara Cowell (Babbage)

The Kimber-Smith/Cowell Corolla in 1987

Barbara raced in the British Touring Car Championship in 1988 and 1989.

The first award she won in the world of motorsport was a first place in a fancy dress car parade at Long Eaton stock car track, in 1973. Barbara dressed up as a mermaid on a car sheeted up as rocks, next to driver Tony Allen, who was Neptune.

The Long Eaton track was the scene of her first driving exploits, too, as a junior driver in Ministox. She progressed through the junior and senior ranks, and by 1978, when she was twenty, she was the British Mini-Rod champion. Three years later, in 1981, she was British, European and World Mini-Rod champion.

As she had won almost everything she could in short-oval Mini-Rods, it was a natural progression into long circuit racing in a Mini in 1982. She entered the Mini Seven championship, and was eleventh overall in her first year. This was enough to earn her the Novices award.

In 1983, she moved steadily up the Mini racing ranks, and ended the year as the Lydden Hill Mini Seven champion. In 1984, she was second in the overall championship, winning herself the BWRDC’s Embassy Trophy, and their Racing championship trophy.

For the next few seasons, Barbara raced different cars in the Uniroyal Production Saloon championship. She received support from Gerry Marshall, who prepared her Fiat Strada in 1985, and later provided her with a Vauxhall Astra GTE. She enjoyed some success in these cars, but it was in a Suzuki Swift that she really shone, winning Class D in 1987 with five victories. This gave her second overall in the championship. One of her wins was a two-driver enduro at the end of the season, at Brands Hatch, and she shared the car with Geoff Kimber-Smith. In September, the same driver pairing tackled the Tourist Trophy at Silverstone, a round of the International Touring Car Championship. They drove a Toyota Corolla, but did not finish.

Following on from her Production Saloon wins and ITC experience, it was a logical step for Barbara to test herself further in the British Touring Car Championship.

Her 1988 BTCC season started with the two-driver enduro at Donington, sharing Geoff Kimber-Smith’s Toyota Corolla again. They were fourteenth overall, and won their class. Later in the season, she used a Ford Escort RS1600i run by the North Essex Motorsport team. She was 19th in the Brands Hatch 1000km support race, second in class, but then did not make it to the finish at Snetterton or Brands. She did not qualify for the Birmingham Superprix street race, but it was cancelled anyway, but then the same happened at Donington. In the last race of the season, at Silverstone, she was 18th overall.

That year, she also found time for some Production Saloon races, in a BMW M3. Her best result seems to have been a class win at Castle Combe.

In 1989, she renewed her partnership with Kimber-Smith and the Corolla for one race, at Donington, but did not finish due to a misfire. Illness limited her activities this year, and it was her only BTCC race.

After 1989, she raced less, but she remained competitive in Production Saloons. She took a year off in 1990 to set up a performance driving school, and to marry Peter Babbage. Now competing as Barbara Babbage, she raced the Swift again in 1991, achieving some more top-ten overall finishes.

In 1993, she raced in the Willhire 24 Hours in a Honda Civic. She was part of an all-female team with Clare Redgrave and Kirsten Kolby. They were fourth. They apparently took part in two other enduros that year, with similar success, but the results are not forthcoming.

In either 1993 or 1994, she raced a Peugeot 106 in Production Saloons, scoring at least one second place at Silverstone. 1994 was her last season; it was becoming increasingly difficult for Barbara to find the sponsorship needed to compete at a level of which she was capable. She retired and started a family. In 1994, she became one of the first women to be given full membership of the British Racing Drivers’ Club.

(Image from

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Women Drivers in One-Make Series: Croatia

Alenka Jurašić

Croatia is home to a surprising number of one-make Speedqueens. The Skoda Fabia Cup of the mid-2000s was a favoured series among female drivers.

Alenka Jurašić – Croatian driver who competed in the Skoda Fabia Cup in the 2000s. She first raced in the series in 2005, with a best finish of eighth, at Grobnik. In 2006, she was a regular top-five finisher, and the best of the four regular female drivers that year. She was not quite as competitive in 2007, although she did repeat her fourth place at Pozega. At the same time, and for some years previously, she was active in the discipline of auto-slalom, and won three Croatian championships. She has been competing on and off in Croatia since at least 1998, when she was eighth in the Clio Cup. In 1999, she enjoyed some success in a Peugeot 106, and she has also raced in the Croatian touring car championship.

Mirna Kljucaricek - drove a Skoda Fabia in Croatian road races in 2007. She was part of the Billa Ladies Racing Team with Diana Markt. They were competing in the Skoda Fabia Cup series. Mirna was tenth in the championship, with a best finish of sixth, at Dugopolje.

Tajana Koren - Croatian who races a variety of saloon cars in Europe, including in the Skoda Fabia Cup in 2005, in Croatia. She began racing in 1996, driving in the Clio Cup. She then spent part-seasons in the Skoda and Citroen Saxo Cups, in Croatia and Italy, in the case of the Saxo series. Her best result in Italy was eleventh. In Croatia, she scored some podium positions. In 2001, she switched to the Ford Focus Cup, where she remained until 2005, usually doing part-seasons. Her best championship result was seventh, in 2001. Following a break after the 2005 season, she drove in some rounds of the Alpine Renault Clio championship in 2009. She was 16th overall.  

Dina Marenić – raced in the INA Skoda Fabia Cup between 2005 and 2007. During her first season, her best finish was twelfth, at Grobnik. Her second year in the championship was better, and she reached the top ten on three occasions, the best of these being a seventh place, again at Grobnik. She was third in a ladies’ race at Zagreb. At Grobnik again, she improved her best finishing place to sixth in 2008. During this time, she competed in hillclimbs in the Fabia, as well as circuit races. She appears to have got her start in motorsport via rallying, having finished 24th in the Croatia Rally in 2004, driving a Fiat Seicento.  

Diana Markt - races in Croatia. She took part in the Skoda Fabia Cup in 2007. She drove for the Billa Ladies’ Racing Team with Mirna Kljucaricek, and usually out-scored her team-mate. She had been active in the series since 2005, usually finishing midfield. Her best result was second in a women's race, in Zagreb, in 2006.

Martina Mihok – raced in the Skoda Fabia Cup in 2006 and 2007. In 2006, she was slightly behind the other female drivers, and was fourth in the Ladies’ race. Her best overall finish was eleventh, at Dugopolje. As well as racing, she won her class in a women-only “Sesvete Rally”. In 2007, she visited the top ten twice: eighth at Pozega and tenth at Grobnik. The same year, she did some hillclimbs in the same car, but was not really successful. After that, she appears to have stayed involved with motorsport, although she became a mother to a seriously ill child some time before 2013, when a charity motor show was organised for her.

Ivana Vidanec – active in Croatian one-make motorsport since at least 2002, when she raced a Skoda Fabia in circuit races and slalom events. In 2003, she raced in the Ford Focus Cup, with a best finish of thirteenth, at Grobnik. She was 21st in the championship. A second season saw her improve a little, managing an eleventh at Grobnik, but she was still only 23rd overall. That year, she also did some hillclimbs in the Focus, and was involved in street racing in a Honda Civic (possibly drifting). She does not appear to have raced since then.

(Image from